East is a pretty dominant team. They’re a three-headed monster on offense. All three of those guys are tough to stop. My expectations are that we will play hard and compete. —Corner Canyon head coach Don Eck, on East's Isaac Valles, Preston Curtis and Ula Tolutau
SALT LAKE CITY — If the Corner Canyon Chargers are going to have a chance against top-ranked East, they have to find a way to slow the Leopards’ prolific offense.
Charger head coach Don Eck said his expectations are pretty simple for Friday’s game.
“East is a pretty dominant team,” he said. “They’re a three-headed monster on offense. All three of those guys are tough to stop. My expectations are that we will play hard and compete.”
“(Curtis) might be the fastest guy in the state,” he said. “(Tolutau) might be the biggest fullback and the quarterback can hurt you with his arm or his feet. And then there is the tight end.” That would be senior Joe Tukuafu, who has 600 yards receiving to lead East in receptions and eight touchdowns.
The unranked, first-year program is not, however, intimidated in the slightest by the powerhouse.
“Our coaches have a good plan,” Eck said. “We’ve just got to play hard.”
East coach Brandon Matich said the Chargers will be a formidable second-round foe.
“They are very athletic,” Matich said. “They have some really fast, really athletic guys. They run an aggressive blitzing scheme on defense without an entire identity.” And then Matich reels off the defenses he’s seen from the Chargers.
“They’re going to give you something multiple, active, moving around,” he said. “Something that’s going to cause you problems.”
Eck said his coaches are practicing a few defensive looks that they haven’t even used this season. That defense is led by linebacker Gaige Kartchner, who has seven sacks and 54 tackles on the season.
Matich said the Chargers have plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball, starting with their quarterback Michael Ebeling. His favorite target is junior wide receiver Garrett Michaeli.
“The quarterback can make plays with both his feet and his arm, and his receiver (Michaeli) catches everything for them. He runs around the picket, and his kids hold their routes.”
Eck said Kartchner and Ebeling have provided leadership to the young program.
“(Kartchner) is an absolute terror for opposing offenses,” Eck said. “We’re a different ball club without those two guys.”
Eck knows the Charger defense will have to lead the way if they hope to upset the Leopards.
“We’re hoping we can slow them down and make this a good ball game,” said Eck, who returns to high school coaching after three decades in the college coaching ranks.
The Chargers are tougher than a lot of first-year teams, in large part because the school had nearly all of the Alta Little League players who live in Draper choose the new school when it opened this fall.
“About 80 percent of this team came from Alta, and they had the best sophomore team in the state,” Eck said. “So I knew we had some good guys to work with.”
Eck said returning to high school coaching was made easier because he hired very experienced prep assistant coaches.
“It’s been extremely fun,” Eck said. “We have great kids. We’ve had great support with parents and the community. The kids have worked extremely hard.” That work paid off when the new program tied for a share of the region title. Orem, the only team to beat Corner Canyon in region play, won the coin toss but was upset last week by fourth-seeded Salem Hills. The Chargers earned the second seed on a subsequent coin toss and won their first-round game against Spanish Fork.
East, on the other hand, hasn’t lost a game all season and, in fact, defeated bigger schools fairly handily, including Alta and Jordan.
Corner Canyon statistical breakdown
(Note: Individual yardage and defensive stats only include weeks 6-11)
Scoring offense: 26.4 ppg (12th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 20.1 ppg (10th in 4A)
Passing leader: Michael Ebeling (62-107, 57.9%, 826 yards, 16 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Riley Ogden (115 carries, 556 yards, 8 TDs), Michael Ebeling (67 carries, 319 yards, 10 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Riley Ogden (11 catches, 129 yards, 4 TDs), Garrett Michaeli (11 catches, 224 yards, 6 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Gaige Kartchner (54 tackles), Matt Scheffner (39 tackles)
Sack leaders: Gaige Kartchner (7 sacks), Max Adams (4 sacks)
Interception leaders: Matt Scheffner (2 INTs)
East statistical breakdown
(Note: Does not include first-round stats)
Scoring offense: 50.8 ppg (1st in 4A)
Scoring defense: 15.5 ppg (2nd in 4A)
Passing leader: Isaac Valles (66-107, 61.7%, 1,430 yards, 15 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Ula Tolutau (128 carries, 1,813 yards, 27 TDs), Preston Curtis (52 carries, 707 yards, 12 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Joe Tukuafu (33 catches, 600 yards, 8 TDs)
Sack leaders: Christian Folau (8.5 sacks)
Felt’s Facts for Corner Canyon High School
All-time record: 6-5 (1 year)
Region championships: 1 (2013 co)
Playoff appearances: 1
All-time playoff record: 1-0
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Felt’s Facts for East High School
All-time record: 534-342-31 (100 years)
Region championships: 32 (1917, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923 co, 1925 co, 1926, 1929 co, 1934, 1935, 1936 co, 1937 co, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1996, 2006 co, 2007 co, 2011, 2013)
Playoff appearances: 41
All-time playoff record: 50-25-2 (including 2013)
State championships: 15 (1917, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1943, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1974, 1996)
State championship record:12-3-1
Felt’s Factoid(s): East has the most consecutive non-losing seasons with 37, from 1932-1968. ... East also has the most state championships, 15, since state playoffs began in 1919. ... East is tied for the state record (with Skyline) for winning consecutive championship games, five (1919-23).